Dear Brother Mesut Ozil,
We pray you are in good health and Iman. Like many, we are fans of yours. We still remember when you burst onto the football scene during the 2010 World Cup finals and going one better in winning the tournament in 2014 to the mad delight of millions around the world.
We are of course writing to you following your recent post concerning the oppression of Uighur Muslims and the furore and vitriol that followed from the state of China.
It is also very disturbing that Arsenal Football Club has decided not to support your courageous effort in highlighting the ongoing human rights abuses of the Uighurs. We question the club’s stated “apolitical” stance as only kowtowing to protect commercial interests at the expense of the ethnic and cultural cleansing of millions of innocent people, and we are deeply disappointed by this “moral” standpoint, for hitherto your former club captain, Per Mertesacker and manager, Arsenal Wenger, both lent their names and support to open statements against Brexit in 2016 without the club distancing itself from the political activity of either personalities as it’s chosen to do now.
We supplicate to Allah (God Almighty) for your parents for raising a son with such noble characteristics and for imparting in you the Quranic injunction wherein Allay says,
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice…[Qur’an 4:135]
and to you for embodying the instructions of Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who said:
The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.[Bukhari]
Privileged persons like yourself with public platforms and millions of fans/followers do have a moral duty to speak out against injustices of any kind, not least the one you have so bravely and openly shouldered. You have inspired millions by your simple action, provided a booming voice to the voiceless that we have no doubt will penetrate through to the very Uighur people threatened with effacement. Through your solitary action you have forced open an urgent conversation threatened with permanent closure, you’ve provoked responses from the highest echelons or power including from the US Secretary of State, while Amnesty International has also commented in support of you. The German football club, Cologne has in good conscience now pulled out of a deal to run an academy in China. While the deafening silence and otherwise mealy-mouthed excuses from fellow Muslims buys into propaganda attempting to complicate and muddy a matter clear as crystal, we have no doubt that you have set in motion a tidal wave of benefit for the Uighur as awareness of their terrible plight ripples and grows.
Brother Mesut, you join a most selective band of great and fearless professional athlete activists including the late Muhammad Ali, the late Peter Norman, Kareem Abdur Jabbar and Colin Kaepernick – all thrust into the political limelight in defence of justice and enfranchisement. While pressures and threats will be placed on you, as it was with them, to retract your statement and belie your beliefs and principles, please remain firm. It takes an extraordinary person to stand true in the face of adversity. We are with you. The Ummah is with you. The supplications of the oppressed and the blessings of Allah are with you. The great Muhammad Ali summed it up beautifully and truthfully when he said:
When one man of popularity can let the world know the problems, he might lose a few dollars himself telling the truth. He might even lose his life. But he is helping millionsMuhammad Ali
…and for this we are forever grateful to you.
The Muslim community of Lewisham and far, far beyond salute you, our dear brother. We pray that Allah keeps you smiling after your name “Mesut” derived from the Arabic “Mas’ud” meaning the “the one who is happy”. We pray Allah continues to protect you and endear you in the hearts of the masses. We pray that Allah relieves the suffering of the Uighurs and that of all oppressed peoples the world over. Ameen.
The Trustees of the Lewisham Islamic Centre